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David S. Rugendorf

Partner - los angeles


July 12, 1979.  Woodstock and the moon landing were only 10 years removed, but for young David Rugendorf, this evening would contain elements of both, and much, much more.  It was Disco Demolition Night, a baseball stadium promotion gone horribly wrong, but for David, who was then clad in a black T-shirt proclaiming his affinity for one particular rock 'n' roll band or another, it was a coming of age moment.  The smell of teen spirit, Clearasil and who-knows-what-else was in the air, as the vinyl-encrusted smoke descended upon the field almost in sync with the throngs of screaming youth, hundreds of them, their hormone levels surging.  Baseball, a genteel Victorian game of many rules and the ostensible reason for the existence of this very place where a lack of rules now prevailed, had become almost an afterthought, lost in the tumult.  An overflow crowd stormed the burning field, scaled the foul poles and trashed a batting practice cage, as phalanxes of sky blue helmeted riot police surged forward to restore order.   David, his keen eye observing the chaos unfolding before him, reflected on the metaphysical nature of law and order, rules and recklessness, democracy and anarchy.  "One day", he resolved aloud to himself, "I will become an attorney and this might all make sense."  Now that he IS an attorney, it still doesn't.  Likewise, those professionals who themselves have tried to make sense of Disco Demolition Night have all failed, overthinking the matter and ascribing numerous sociological theories to something that should best be chalked up to a perfect storm of intoxication and garden-variety teen angst. For David, it was an alt-Bar Mitzvah of sorts -- and perhaps the best 98 cents he had ever spent.      


Legal Expertise

David Rugendorf practices immigration and nationality law, providing representation to employers, entrepreneurs, and individuals in administrative petitions to governmental agencies. With a diverse clientele, David serves a wide range of industries, including cosmetics and fragrance, fashion and apparel, emerging technologies, entertainment and media (ranging from major movie studios to commercial production houses to social media personalities and influencers), motor manufacturing, sports, museums, research institutions, investment and finance, commercial airlines, universities, and private foundations.

David counsels his international clients on travel and global mobility issues pertaining to admission to the United States, ensuring seamless transitions. He is well-versed in minimizing the negative immigration consequences associated with criminal convictions and other grounds of inadmissibility, protecting his clients' interests and facilitating their access to the United States.

Additionally, David demonstrates a strong commitment to pro bono work as the co-chair of MSK's Pro Bono Committee.

Representative Matters

  • Managed large-volume visa and immigration strategies for large technology, commercial airlines, and manufacturing companies.
  • Facilitated transfers of multinational corporate executives and managers.
  • Successfully managed litigation against government agencies to force adjudication on unnecessarily delayed immigration matters.
  • Procured visas and green cards for directors, actors, cinematographers, and “below-the-line” talent for major Hollywood studios and independent film producers.
  • Obtained visas for athletes from a wide range of sports including boat and auto racing, motocross, and equestrian event competitors and trainers.
  • Successfully assisted foreign business owners and high ranking executives in admission to the U.S. despite potentially disqualifying criminal convictions.
  • As a pro bono matter, prepared and expedited permanent residency and work authorization applications for legal services agency on behalf of foreign attorney whom the agency brought to the United States to manage Holocaust survivors reparations project.
  • As a pro bono matter, prepared an urgent asylum application for a foreign accounting professional and his family, affording them the opportunity to remain safely in the United States indefinitely. 

Reported Decisions

  • Matter of Guess?, Inc., 2015-PER-00504 (2017)
  • People v. Granado (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 194
  • People v. Sierra (1995) 37 Cal. App. 4th 1690

Honors & Awards

  • Wiley W. Manuel Pro Bono Certificate, State Bar of California (2009, 2022)
  • "Top 5% of lawyers in Southern California," Southern California Super Lawyers (2005)

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

  • Co-Chair, MSK Pro Bono Committee
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • Volunteer Attorney, Public Counsel
  • Volunteer Attorney, Bet Tzedek Legal Services 
  • Former Volunteer Attorney, Program for Torture Victims
  • Former Volunteer Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network
  • Former Volunteer Coach, Mentor and Referee, American Youth Soccer Organization

Other Career Experience

  • Deputy Public Defender/Alternate Public Defender, Fresno, California (1992-1994)
  • Private practice, Immigration law (1994-1998)


Client Alerts

Events & Speaking Engagements


  • California, 1990
  • Illinois, 1991
  • U.S. District Court
  •    Central District of California, 1994
  •    Eastern District of California, 1994
  •    Northern District of California, 1990
  •    Southern District of California, 1994
  • U.S. Court of Appeal, 1990
  •    Ninth Circuit
  •    Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1994


University of California, Los Angeles, Post Graduate Studies in Entertainment Administration, 1998

University of Southern California, Post Graduate Studies in Immigration Law, 1996

University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1990

University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1987; with Honors; Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society

Sears Roebuck Congressional Fellow, 1986


  • Spanish
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